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Getting fit in the new year

Many people begin new fitness journeys at the start of the new year.

“The biggest thing is they have to figure out their why,” said Edgar Woods, who has worked as a personal trainer for two decades. “Why do you want to get in shape? If they can focus on their why, they’ll eventually get there. If you’ve got the why, you’ve got a purpose and it’ not just mindlessly working out.”

Woods has a fitness management degree and is a certified conditioning and strengthening specialist. He also owns a local gym.

For people who have not worked out in months or years, it is a good idea to start slow.

“Don’t try to do what you see somebody else doing, and find an expert. Search it out. Do a little research. Find out who you’re getting you’re advice from. Don’t just take advice because not all advice is good advice.”

There is no cookie cutter answer for getting fit, said Woods, but fitness classes work well for many people, especially if the person feels more comfortable in a group setting. A personal trainer can help someone learn how to exercise effectively and safely, and can create a fitness plan tailored to their client’s limits and strengths.

“A small amount of money spent on a good trainer early on will pay dividends later. If you’re going to pay the money for a gym membership, spend a little bit more and get what you really paid for,” said Woods.

Gyms offer equipment such as treadmills, stairmasters, free weights and squat machines. Paying for a gym, class or trainer also helps some people stick to their fitness goals, because investing money motivates them to show up. But fitness journeys can also begin at home with simple exercises like crunches, sit ups, squats using a chair, marching in place or push ups.

“It may be easier and less intimidating for somebody to start and get the confidence in being able to move again, before they come. For some people that’s the way, other people they have to rip the band aid off,” said Woods.

Wherever someone works out, they can reap health benefits of lower blood pressure, better circulation and healing faster from injuries.

“Consistency over time gets better results than this fad diet or this fad exercise. Come put your time in. You’ll look up and you’ll be a different person. You didn’t get out of shape in thirty days. You’re not going to get in shape in thirty days,” said Woods.

Often people will build strength first, then endurance. Usually it takes six to eight weeks for their metabolism to pick up.

“The biggest thing is people have to stick with it. That consistency and time thing comes back into play. That’s where it’s going to benefit, not in anything that’s quick. Usually if you do get quick results, there’s a rebound. If you lose a bunch too fast, it usually comes back and it usually brings friends.”

Lifestyle changes like getting enough sleep and eating well also play a big role in any fitness journey, said Woods.

“What you put in your mouth will affect it as much or more than what you do at the gym.”

What diet will work well for someone depends on where they are and what they are trying to do, along with personal tendencies and preferences.

When they’re actually doing their workout, breath control can make that effort more effective.

“Breathe in on the start or return phase, exhale on the exertion phase. It’s a simple way to remember,” said Woods. “If you have oxygen rich blood, those muscles are going to be more efficient. You’re going to push more weight and you’re going to push it longer, breathing properly.”

Whether the person is trying to look better, feel better, be stronger or live longer, Woods wants them not to get discouraged.

“Don’t worry about they’re doing. Don’t worry about what you used to do. Focus on what you can do right now and do that to the best of your ability.”